Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Embedding Interactivity in a Static Paper Map

If you have ever traveled through an airport or read a magazine in the last year, you are likely to have seen a QR Code.

Here's a QR code with my contact info. (I'll see if I can fit it on my name badge at the upcoming Smallworld Users Conference)

A QR Code is a 2D scannable image that can have content associated with it (e.g., URL, text, contact info, location, etc). It turns out that most mobile devices and smart phones now have either built-in capability to read these codes or their respective application stores/markets provide a host of QR Reader apps. It is being used a lot by product marketers to allow people to launch an interactive and immersive experience simply by pointing their smartphone camera at a magazine page or a billboard.

I have begun to think about how we could start integrating interactive experiences in utilities' paper maps. While it is true that many utilities are moving to mobile apps for data access, I know that there are still many paper maps being generated. I also know that smart phones are becoming more prevalent throughout society and that means that smart phones are also finding their way to field crews.

So, if a field crew has paper maps and they also have smart phones, what kind of interactivity can we add to paper maps. Right away I can think of things like adding attribute information or geolocation to paper maps. I am sure that there are many other applications and that is why I am posting about this technology. I would love to hear from the community about other ideas concerning how to add interactivity to the old paper maps.

The following video shows a demonstration of how a simple paper map was endowed with dynamic content.

I would enjoy discussing this more with any attending the Smallworld Users Conference ( in September.

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